How I'd grow HelpStay

August 4, 2021

HelpStay is a subscription-based platform where travelers offer their time and skills in exchange for accommodation.

It makes traveling and volunteering easy, connecting hosts (who need help with projects) with helpers (who offer help in exchange for a bed).

I really like the header - it shows me what the product and the benefits are in just a few words.

However, the subheader could be improved to address the visitor directly and explain how it works in detail.

They also have a good explainer video that clearly shows how the platform works.

Well, that’s if you can find it because it’s almost invisible.

It definitely deserves to be put front and center in the hero section.

Their CTA is similar to Airbnb’s - it’s a search bar that asks the visitor where they want to go, but it’s missing one key aspect. 

Most people open to volunteering probably don’t have a precise destination in mind, and could use suggestions.

HelpStay should make the first move by proposing a few opportunities above the fold. They could later be refined with filters.

This would make visitors immediately click through and start their journey on the platform without risking bounces.

It’s a membership business model. Visitors can browse the site for free but to connect with hosts and start planning their trip they’ll need a €30/year subscription.

I’d look for ways to monetize the hosts, too. For example, promoted listings for countries and categories.

Speaking of hosts, they already have them; farms, art retreats, ecovillages, surf lodges… I’d focus on attracting helpers.

To do that, they need precise helper profiles. Luckily, the HelpStay founder did a great job of analyzing the data and knows exactly who they are.

Keeping the product and the persona in mind, they could incentivize word of mouth through UGC.

All these young helpers will share pics of their adventures and, if they mention HelpStay at least once, the generated awareness could be huge.

This isn't a 100% transactional business; there’s a strong relationship to it. Just asking helpers (to grow the movement) could really work.

A timely reminder message the day after they settled in, inviting them to share a pic of their new environment, might do the trick.

Email marketing is really important for HelpStay. People don’t just decide to volunteer abroad; they need multiple touchpoints. 

Currently, there’s only a small form in the footer. They could easily 3x their signup rate by combining an exit intent popup with a lead magnet.

Pro tip: to get more subscribers, treat your signup form as a mini landing page.

- Only ask for the email (you don’t need to know their name)
- Have a clear value proposition (give them a reason to get on the list)
- Use a descriptive CTA (reinforce the incentive)

Search is likely the best acquisition channel for HelpStay; people considering volunteering are turning to Google for information.

After some keyword research, it’s clear there’s a decent search volume for topics relevant to HelpStay and their audience.

They’re doing a good job with their content marketing strategy but they need more links.

They could create and promote a linkable asset to get it picked up by the media. For example, a study of how volunteering is affected by the pandemic.

I like that they found a way to bridge their informational blog posts with their offering.

Ranking on Google is half the battle; if you can’t redirect attention to your product, people will just read your post and leave.

There’s also many who don’t know that the volunteer + travel opportunity exists.

Social is perfect for reaching people who aren’t actively searching for it.

They have a Twitter and IG account but, given their young audience, I’d definitely start using TikTok, too.

Learn marketing from case studies

Every month I pick a new website and write a marketing case study explaining exactly how I’d grow it